Every Friday I have the distinct pleasure of working in a clinic set up specifically for teenagers and I love it. Teenagers are feisty, funny, honest (at least in therapy…most of the time), hurting emotionally, and ready to do something different about it. This is a very challenging time in life as many of you will remember. This is a time full of contradicting emotions. There is pressure to fit in and to stand apart; to be independent from parents or guardians but deep down there is a need to cling to these last few years under the guidance and protection of their parents. Hormones are running wild, and with that, emotions become more intensified. Given the biological, situational, and emotional unrest these kids experience daily, it creates the perfect storm of conflict with friends, peers, and sometimes the ones we love the most. I have deep appreciation for those of you traveling down this road currently, both teenagers and caregivers of teenagers. Here are a few themes that come up often in my sessions with teenagers that deserve some attention.
1- Treat others the way you want to be treated: As mentioned above these years are challenging enough and there is no need to do or say something to someone else that is mean or spiteful. The person(s) you are saying this to are in the same boat as you just trying to get through what can be a very difficult time. Instead show some care and compassion, help someone else out. This will not only make them feel better, but you may notice that it lifts your spirits too. Take care of each other.
2- Be true to yourself: Do what makes you feel happy and healthy. Get involved with things you care about. This builds confidence and character and may open doors for you in the future. Don’t worry about what others may think or say because there is no end to this line of thought. There is pressure to fit in and possibly do things that go against your better judgment. I urge you to stay true to your beliefs and values because in the end you are the one that has to answer to you, and only you are responsible for your actions.
3- It’s not always going to be like this: If you are determined you will find your way. No emotion lasts forever and the situation will most certainly change. As noted above this is a very challenging time in life where such things such as hormones are outside of your control. The teenage years are like a perfect storm that will eventually blow over. You will soon be able to make your own path. Until then, hang on as these years can also teach you valuable life long lessons if you let it.
(photo credit: breakfast club: mentalfloss.com)